2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 - Washington 4, N.Y. Rangers 3 – Capitals lead series, 3-1
For the second straight night, the hockey world found out that no lead is safe at any time in any game.
Tuesday night on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Kings blew a 4-0 second-period lead and lost in overtime to the San Jose Sharks. On Wednesday night in the World’s Most Famous Arena, the New York Rangers had a 3-0 lead a few minutes into the third period, but that was no guarantee of safety or security. The Rangers, looking like a near-lock to even this series in two and guarantee a Game 6 in New York next week, lost hold of the plot and eventually lost this game in overtime. Suddenly, the L.A. Kings aren’t alone in gagging away a massive advantage they worked so hard to initially attain.
The overtime hero of this improbable spellbinder of a series-turner was Washington’s Jason Chimera, who scored 12:36 into the second overtime as the Capitals completed an unbelievable three-goal comeback to beat the Rangers 4-3 and grab a stranglehold on this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The mind-numbing replay of Kings-Sharks from Tuesday put the Rangers one game away from golf season.
After neither team scored a goal in the first period, the Rangers scored three goals in the second period. The first one came 5:24 into the period as Artem Anisimov put the puck past Michal Neuvirth. Then the Rangers scored two goals just seven seconds apart. The first one was scored by Marian Gaborik at the 13:40 mark and then Brandon Dubinsky answered and scored at 13:47. When the Blueshirts of Broadway took a 3-0 lead into the third period at a rocking Madison Square Garden, the Caps’ chances of waging a comeback looked pretty slim. San Jose might have overcome a 4-0 deficit against Los Angeles on Tuesday, but the Sharks had two periods to do that; the Caps, as snake-bitten a franchise as the Sharks, had just 20 minutes to do the deed.
No problem. The Capitals answered the Rangers’ three unanswered goals with three unanswered goals of their own.
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First Alexander Semin scored at the 2:47 mark of the third period on a flukey goal scored when Lundquist swept the puck off the goal line but couldn’t cover the puck, leaving it exposed just inside the right post and allowing Semin to tap it in for a cheapie. Just 97 seconds later, Marcus Johansson scored the first of his two goals of the night at the 3:44 mark of the period, sitting on the right doorstep and gently tipping in a pass thanks to lax coverage from the Rangers’ defense.
Johansson’s second goal of the night came at the 12:07 mark of the third period and tied up the game and sent the game into overtime. That Johansson goal came off a re-direct past Henrik Lundqvist, the hard-luck Ranger goalie who deserved a better fate in this tilt.
Neither team could light the lamp in overtime, and the teams went into double overtime tied at 3. The Capitals failed on a power play in the first overtime after New York committed a delay of game. The Rangers gained a man-advantage situation in the second OT, but were unable to convert in their own right. Those two missed opportunities suggested that this game could go well into the New York night, but then another fluke goal put a quicker-than-expected end to the proceedings.
At 12:36 into the fifth period of the night, Chimera took a shot from right circle that was blocked. Then Rangers forward Marian Gaborik raced in and tried to clear the puck out of the crease, but he swept it right past Lundqvist – who was about to cover the puck – and onto Chimera's stick for an easy stuff shot that sent the Capitals back to Washington with a 3-1 series lead.
Just like that, a series turned 180 degrees toward the top seed in the East.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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